Aug 28, 2008
...When I came here for househunting in June I caught a familiar vibe, similar to how things were in Dayton. Similar to a Midwestern vibe--down home, laid-back, sensible, and friendly. But with cowboys. A couple weeks after I was here they held their annual Frontier Days, which is loosely based around a giant rodeo. I think. And the state license plate has a little rodeo cowboy on it, so one should expect to see a lot of Wranglers around town. Throw in a military base, an oil refinery, and you come up with friendly, hardworking and/or blue collar folks with just a hint of "Aww, shoot." Kind of an interesting mix, but not at all incompatible with itself.
This means that, where I had a subtle surfer-dude vibe in Lompoc, here I picked up a mild twang within minutes. It's one of my quirks--picking up bits & pieces of the local accent. I'm not sure if it makes me appear more hip on the local feel or just plain silly, but thus far I've been unsuccessful in stopping myself. And I don't care enough to really, really try. And no one else seems to care all that much either, so that's that...
...So you've got Dell Range Blvd, the main drag. Here you will find the mall and many of the major chains, including big box retailers and restaurants. If it's not in Cheyenne, you can drive 45 minutes to Fort Collins & probably find it there. The Cat Daddy pointed out that we have not had such a readily-available opportunity to spend our money in close to 4 years. Oh we had stores in Mass, just not any within a half-hour of where we lived. Most people's kneejerk reaction is "I have to drive 30 minutes to Target??"--which was certainly my first thought. But over the long term we found ourselves saving a good bit of money because if we wanted something we'd first have to decide if it was worth driving to Franatickingham (Framingham & Natick--towns next to each other geographically--in one convenient fake name) to get it. Often it wasn't, or at the very least could wait until our roughly-monthly shopping trips. Inconvenient, perhaps, but fantastic for the checkbook.
But now we live about three miles off of Dell Range Blvd, and consequently within about 6 miles of pretty much anywhere we'd want to go on a regular basis. The other day we went to Olive Garden, where we hadn't eaten probably since sometime in 2004. In Dayton. The Cat Daddy said "Hey let's eat at Olive Garden." I said, "OK, but I thought you didn't like Olive Garden." He said "Oh I like it fine, I just got tired of it when we lived in Dayton," to which I replied, "And I can pretty much guarantee that you will grow tired of it again."
Whole wheat pasta--eh. Not bad for a healthier choice, but definitely not as good as the refined, white stuff. Mmmmmm, refined white stuff...
...When we drove into our neighborhood we found a profusion of multifarious trailers. RV's, horse trailers, boats, personal watercraft, some sort of racing apparatus (dirtbikes?), and so on. And 4-wheelers. Some demonstrated great affluence and/or a weekend-leisure-warrior vibe, while others fairly screamed something on the order of "urban hick." Or something. The Cat Daddy asked if I'd noticed all of this before and I swear, when I was here the trailers were almost entirely absent. A strange phenomenon. Not at all a dealbreaker, or even necessarily a negative thing. Just something we noticed...
...The Cat Daddy has XM. He acquired it when he bought his car last year, and kept up the subscription anticipating a great lack of decent radio stations in Cheyenne. I have not yet caved to satellite radio, so I have been doing the "seek" and "scan" functions while driving along. I seem to have found a fairly palatable station which sometimes seems along the lines of Oldies, which is good as far as I'm concerned, but other times leans toward a mix-type of thing. Either way, it seems to be halfway decent. Surprisingly more funk than one would expect from the land of cowboys and country. But hey, I'll take it...
...As for the house, it's all we dreamed and more. The best part is by far the basement, with its wall of built-in shelves glistening in white and the cable/internet up & running. It feels luxuriously cavernous down there (here, actually--we put the office down here too), but probably the main reason for this is that there's very little down there yet. When the Cat Daddy and Mr. Z unloaded the truck yesterday they put all the boxes in the garage as a staging area. Now our job is to wade thru everything and figure out placement in the house and/or yard sale box(es).
I'm no slug, mind you--I wrangled a certain little toddler and did various food runs & sundry errands. And we found that our dryer outlet was set up for four-prong plugs, while our dryer cord had three prongs. First I bought a three-pronged outlet to put in the four-pronged outlet's place. Upon some confusion about what to do with the extra wire, however, I consulted with my dad, who suggested keeping the outlet and replacing the dryer cord, so as to prevent the necessity of future outlet replacements. So I put back the four-pronged outlet and exchanged the three-pronged outlet for a four-pronged dryer cord, which was more expensive but should be more effective in the long run. What did I do with the extra wire? My understanding is that the extra wire is a ground so per Dad's instructions I threw it in next to the white wire and called it good. I should know what the white wire is for, but I don't. Then I turned the power back on and started the dryer, and not only did it not explode, but it ran as normal. I am awesome...
...But the altitude is still presenting the highest learning curve for me. I haven't actually cooked yet, but I will need to be mindful of directions that may need changing to compensate. Today in the store I picked up some yogurt and was leery at first because the foil toppers were bulging a bit. I'd always thought one is supposed to steer clear of bulging foil since it could indicate some bad yogurt, but darn it they were all bulge-y. Then I realized that they were probably packaged somewhere that isn't at 6,000 feet, and transporting the containers to the higher altitude would make them bulge. So I bought them. They taste fine...
The Cat Daddy is unloading a box so I'd better go find a place to snooze before he recruits me to help...
Aug 25, 2008
Aug 23, 2008
--We picked up a truck, loaded it with way more of our stuff than we thought would fit, and left Lompoc on Friday.
--We cleaned & vacated our house on time, and received our full deposit back.
--Our friends sent us with way too many luscious brownies. Yum. Eating another brownie helps alleviate the carb crash from the previous one.
--I drove the first leg of the trip, because I'm an awesome truck driver.
--The truck has fairly comfy seats and in general doesn't make my butt hurt (except until the very end which is pretty much unavoidable on road trips, regardless of the vehicle).
--The Cat Daddy and His Highness made it to Las Vegas Friday night.
--We all made it to Park City UT by tonight.
--We are staying across the street from the ski jumps used in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
--Park City Pizza Company is AWESOME. Get the Greek pizza.
--We are still on pace to arrive in Cheyenne tomorrow and close on the house Tuesday. Yee-haw.
--While it is the correct size and is running fine, the truck has a few little quirks. The biggest defect is the lack of cruise control.
--Due to a misunderstanding, the few belongings we sent with the moving company were picked up at 2pm instead of 8:30 am like we originally thought.
--As a result of the above, we left Lompoc at 3 pm instead of 11 am.
--As a result of the above, we hit Friday afternoon/evening traffic in both Santa Barbara and greater LA.
--Then, 20 minutes outside of Barstow, the truck dinged at me and a little dummy light came on. It was not dumb enough because I had to decipher what it meant. It meant that I was low on coolant. So I called UHaul to see if it was safe to keep driving or if they needed to come rescue me. I was transferred 3 times in succession, each time by someone who claimed they were sending me to a service expert.
--When I finally reached the "service expert," he didn't seem to have much expertise. But I finally deduced that I was fine to drive to Barstow so I could put some water in the thing.
--After getting to Barstow, determining that there was no place to add water without waiting for the whole dang front end to cool off, Zoe and I chucked the effort for the night and stayed at the simple yet lovely California Inn.
--Upon opening the front end to add water before catching up to the guys in Vegas, I found that there is plenty of coolant. More than plenty, in fact.
--Stupid dummy light.
--UHaul called the Cat Daddy to tell him that they gave him the wrong truck. Right size, wrong truck.
Par for the course, A-OK...
UPDATE: To Anonymous who wrote "PENSKE! PENSKE! PENSKE!"--you are so right. We went with UHaul this time because in this instance it was WAY cheaper. By like a thousand bucks. We tried to get Penske to match the price, or at least come a little closer, but they couldn't. And it's not like this time has been catastrophic...but when a big yellow Penske and I pass on the highway, I must admit I feel a little wistful.
And in case you think I've got some sort of anti-UHaul bias...the Cat Daddy worked for UHaul in college. So maybe I do. But maybe rightly so...
Aug 20, 2008
I shall try to post from the road. Wish us luck/pray for our travels if you are so inclined. If you pray for 'traveling mercies,' it will make me fondly giggle a little inside.
One more thing before I go. I would like to annouce that after several months of physical therapy, my butt feels fantastic. Here's hoping it stays that way for a while...
Pretty much anywhere you go, some group of people is going to say "The drivers there are nuts." When I was younger and growing up in Tempe AZ, it was said of California drivers. When we found out we were headed to New England in 2004, it was said of Boston drivers. I have come to believe the location discussed is at least somewhat a coastal issue. Much like closed-in porches are called "Arizona rooms" in the West and "Florida rooms" in the East, when really they are the same thing. And how people retire and move to Florida on a full or part-time basis in the east, and to Arizona in the West. I'm sure some would prefer to go to California (Ooh, oooh! Me! Me!), except for the dang taxes and other money-sucks, which is a tough thing to get used to for anyone, and I imagine moreso if your regular income is more or less stopping. But taxes are another blog post entirely.
And as with the people, it boils down to an issue of culture.
Ohio is laid-back. You can be in the fast lane, furiously passing those in the slower lanes, and still be driving at or slightly under the speed limit. California is just plain fast. With California, as with Phoenix, people just want to get where they're going. As long as your primary goal is to not disrupt the flow of traffic, it's not too terribly difficult to tell when you need to back off & let someone go by, or speed your butt up & go. You do need to be prepared to both signal and start your intended action simultaneously. While in Ohio a turn signal says "See, I plan to go that way, would you mind letting me in please," a turn signal in Phoenix or California is more like "Look, I'm going this way--right now, in fact!" or even "I just went this way, by the way." You make sure you've got the space and you go--boom.
Boston is a different animal entirely. While the freeways are somewhat similar to most big cities I've driven in (complete with the rush hour stop & go, when you plan your travels and/or stay home specifically to avoid the freeways), the in-town driving is very...different than I'm accustomed to. It's a common quip among newbies to the area that the people there are just plain nuts, or as I say, possibly smoking crack. Which is most likely an exaggeration. I hope.
To begin with, the roads are fairly well-marked. Sometimes. Other times you can be driving along watching the names of the side streets, & have no idea what road you are actually on, or that the road you're on has changed names three times in the past mile. And don't even get me started about the lack of a grid system. It's more like an anti-grid system. To tell what direction you're going you'd better keep a compass with you or have a really good sense of the sun's position (and then subtract about 2 hours in the winter), because no road is straight. And THEN the roads meet, merge, and divide in random forks--as opposed to intersections--and these are where you really need to watch for the signs, but being psychic sure helps too. I spent $20 on an atlas of the greater-Boston area and kept it in my car for, like, 2 years because I used it that often.
Thankfully, this convoluted web of roads has a simple explanation: animals. California and many (most?) of the more Western states had the luxury of planning their cities, so they did the most logical thing and set them up on grids. North/south and east/west. And there were some smarty-pantses who got all clever with the numbers, and the Avenue/Street/Drive/Road labels and such to make things even easier. Massachusetts--really, really old. So they built horse & wagon trails based on where the wildlife traveled, and consequently when cars came along, they simply paved over the dirt roads. Which when you think about it isn't all that bad of an idea--the wildlife probably knew to stay away from flood planes and the like, so if you don't have the convenience of modern survey and grading equipment, who better to look to than the deer.
The people are...well-meaning. There are some behaviors which seem really, really odd if you've never been to the area. There were times I'd be driving along and the driver in front of me would decide he really, really needed to stop dead in the middle of traffic to let Random Oncoming Driver turn left in front of him. Or I'd be waiting to turn left, and one guy would stop and flash me (with his headlights, perv), and get all torqued with me for not going, completely oblivious to the fact that those in his neighboring lane really didn't care if I got to turn left that day. Except for that one time I forgot about the neighboring lane and narrowly avoided a collision with said oblivious lane members. Yikes.
Much like with their terse style of interacting, their driving is more tolerable when you understand the reasoning behind it. It goes back to the horse-trails and so-so road markings. In their own way, they are trying to help everyone get where they need to go. So if it means sacrificing the pace in their own lane for a few seconds to let Joe-lefty get out of everyone's way behind him, they'll contribute to the greater good of those in his lane.
I did not comprehend this in the least at first, until I went on a business trip with two native New England co-workers. We were in L.A., where I was basking in the warm temps and sunshine, and had just gassed up on the way back to the airport. Mr. Mike was driving, and we were waiting to turn right, back onto the main road. The driveway was situated just after a stoplight, so in accordance with California culture the traffic kept moving. Completely accustomed to this sort of thing, I mentally thought "it'll be our turn after the light turns red." Meanwhile, Mr. Mike grew increasingly impatient, sarcastically muttering "Of course you can't let me in at all, can you." I replied "Um, they don't do that here." I don't think he appreciated that, but those few moments were incredibly enlightening for me.
Now all that said, I want to state that the exceptions are the same wherever you go. The ones in seriously fast cars will blow by at ridiculous speeds, and the truly obnoxious ones will weave in & out within what seems like fractions of inches and without regard to much of anything around them. Although THE most obnoxious driver I ever encountered was on a two-lane surface highway, on the way to work in Bedford. It was a Saab or Audi (European imports are big there), mainly driving in the oncoming lane, except for when a vehicle came up needing to travel in that lane, when this driver would abruptly cut in wherever (s)he was. Lotsa braking on everyone's part, intense incredulity on my part, and no shortage of Hail Marys on his/her part, I'm sure.
And of course there was a sense of urgency--one tends to have that when one is trying not to run head-on into people...
Aug 18, 2008
Aug 17, 2008
Cat Daddy: "Your Highness, where's your bellybutton?"
HH: points first to his boy-parts (yes, we use the proper terms when warranted), then to his bellybutton
CD: "Where's your boo-boo?"
HH: points to his knee, which lately seems perpetually skinned.
CD: "Where are your boobies?"
HH: points to his boobies
Me: "You taught him 'boobies'?"
CD: "What else would we call them?"
This is the Cat Daddy back in June, trying desperately not to show the extreme excitement of wearing his flight suit to work for the first time. He's not supposed to have his cap ("cover") on indoors, so in case you're a commander or the uniform police, he was under duress...
Mommy went to WalMart & came back with milk. The Cat Daddy took His Highness to WalMart & came back with toys. His Highness loves the ball so much that he takes it with him to bed & falls asleep holding it. The Cat Daddy is way more fun to take to WalMart...
Peekaboo = adorable...
Aug 16, 2008
So the next time I showed up for PT, they grabbed the camera and started shooting. This is probably the closest to modeling I'll ever get, so I went for it. I really wanted to ham it up a bit, but proper decorum dictated I behave myself. Such is life...
Above we see the side plank. Note the straight body-line extending from head to toe and the top foot placed slightly forward for added balance. Also note the eyes, which weren't sure where to look, and so aimed for a pleasant, far-off expression that most definitely did not say "my right arm is trembling and I might fall over..."
This one is the bridging with leg extensions. Depending on your PT you will either do repetitions somewhat rapidly in a jerky pseudo-march, or hold the pose continually while alternating legs every 10 seconds. If you are a PT yourself you might notice my left hip dropping a bit, which means something or other in there needs strengthening. Hence this exercise...
Here we have the opposite arm/leg extensions. Again, depending on your PT you will approach this one slightly differently. One option is to do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side. If your PT is on the more sadistic side, as they seem to be in CA, you will do 3 sets of 2 minutes worth of reps, totalling more like 24 reps each side per set...
And finally the basic plank. Deceptively simple, yet oh so painful. Straight body supported only by elbows and toes. As you increase in awesomeness you will move your feet toward each other, creating a more concentrated weight distribution and more work for the abs. Eventually you'll do this exercise on one foot at a time. Again, the eyes are staring slightly ahead, trying not to bore holes of concentration into the wall...
Aug 12, 2008
Then again, the Cat Daddy gets all impressed by the lady gymnasts' skillz, while I'm worried about whether or not they've overtrained & stunted their growth, or done permanent joint damage by the age of 16, or something. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate the beauty of it. It's still one of my favorite sports to watch. I just get stuck worrying about the risks and all. Plus the guys get to do 6 events instead of 4. Six!
Probably a case of our respective gender biases. Then again, the announcer just talked about one of the male gymnasts' knee "exploding" a year ago. We both winced at that one. Ew...
Aug 11, 2008
Last batch--I was blending & blending. I began to detect a slight aroma of burnt motor, but I felt compelled to keep going as I was pretty sure I was reaching pourable-status. Well, a few moments later I visually confirmed the smoking motor, so that was that. Smoothies--just fine. Blender--dead...
Aug 9, 2008
OK, Anonymous, do I know you? I can think of several friends who might have extensive and spectacular knowledge such as this. With a comment this cool, you really should reveal your identity. Even if it's a pseudonym. If you don't want to reveal it here, you could email it to me for my own personal edification. C'mon, do the right thing.
"...I am personally waiting for 11/11/11. I have always known 11:11 as 'down time' where you lie on your back and put all your limbs in the air. I'm thinking that'll be the ultimate down time."
As for, the 11:11 thing: I learned "It's 11:11, make a wish." I never knew about lying on your back and putting all your limbs in the air. I'm totally going to start doing that.
Ultimate down time, indeed...
Aug 8, 2008
Aug 5, 2008
The Cat Daddy suggested that writing about my feelings might be cathartic, and since I have a blog and all I'm inclined to agree. So here are my thoughts an hour after the fact--
--I told God that obviously I wanted Pim to come home safely, but in the event that he had met his demise I would want to know about it so that we didn't go to Wyoming wondering. In this regard I am thankful to have the uncertainty lifted.
--In the event that he had died, I really preferred not to be the one to find him. The neighbor made the discovery very shortly before we started searching on Sunday. And he is a kind person who loves animals. He has a kitty of his own, in fact. He did a most concise and practical 'disposal,' and he broke the news to us gently. I appreciated that.
--Pim came to us as an outdoor kitty. He also came to us without front claws. We weighed the risk of letting him continue to be an outdoor kitty without his natural defenses, but had decided that we would rather have a happy cat with a shorter lifespan than a long-lived cat who was sad 'cuz we made him stay inside when he preferred to be out. By our calculations he was at the very least 10 years old. So we're thankful that he had a happy and diverse life, traversing the country with us.
--The Cat Daddy's pseudonym may be up for reconsideration; I haven't decided. Depends on when we get a new pet and what sort of pet it turns out to be. Just to narrow it down, it will be a dog or cat...so please don't try to sell me your ferret.
--I've lost pets before. The nature of pets is that we generally outlive them by quite a bit. So while I'm sad, I'm comforted by having been thru the pet grief process before.
--My theology on the pet afterlife is highly unconventional. I don't buy into that "they don't have souls" business...I happen to think they all go to heaven. Willful ignorance? Perhaps...but we can't know for sure in this life. As to the spiritual status of nondomesticated animals, it's beyond my scope of expertise. I have my guesses, but I really cannot say for sure.
That's about all I've got at the moment. Let's all think nice kitty thoughts and give a "hear, hear" for our good buddy Pim...
Aug 4, 2008
Anyway, there's a mil-family back in MA who were sort of distant acquaintances through work; ie, I never me them, but the husband/dad worked in my building. Their younger kiddo was born 3 months before His Highness. He had a heart defect, which required surgery and a few other interventions along the way. He had been doing pretty well, but over the past month or so he had some complications which built & built, and finally last week they had to make the horrendously-difficult decision to let him go peacefully. I mean, there wasn't much of a choice really, but I'm thinking anytime you have to shut off the life support of a loved one it's a horrendously-difficult thing to do. Maybe especially when it's your kiddo.
Just before I found out about all of this, I had again been contemplating whether or not it would be worth the trouble to formulate my Pearl/Ezzo manifesto(s)...but this contemplation was short-lived. I simply needed to go watch His Highness sleep. And when he woke in the middle of the night and the Cat Daddy brought him into our room, I felt the need to let him curl up between us on our bed, instead of taking him back to his own. And today at naptime I certainly made him sleep (he was tired, after all), but I found it necessary to snuggle up and doze a bit myself while he contentedly sang, and talked, and fidgeted his way to sleep (and whacked me in the head a couple times). And again at bedtime.
We'll get back to the sleep training soon enough, and I probably will do a review of my studies in child training, but sometimes there's no doubt when you need to toss aside "the methods" for a while, along with all the controversies and debates surrounding them, in favor of more important things...
We heard some commotion outside--we believe there was some sort of kitty-gang altercation, or something. The Cat Daddy ran outside and saw two cats hightailing it out of the area, but no sign of Pim. Then in the morning, for the first time ever, he didn't show up for breakfast. Not a good sign.